In 2019, an appeals court in neighboring Maryland ruled that the smell of marijuana was not a probable reason for a search, and that ruling was upheld later in the year on appeal. Pedinini of NORML said last month that the Maryland Supreme Court unanimously ruled earlier this year that law enforcement agencies cannot rely on the "smell of marijuana" as a justification for an unwarranted search or arrest of a person.
While much remains to be done in the criminal justice and cannabis policy areas, this law is an important step that the Commonwealth can and should take immediately, "he added. Law enforcement searches based solely on the "smell of marijuana" will significantly reduce the number of laws - permanent citizens in Virginia's law enforcement agency. Although Virginia still has time to do the same, the passage of the law signals that we are on the right track to take important steps in this area.
Senate Bill 5029 passed by 21 votes to 15 in August, and at that point, the bill's co-initiator and sponsor, Senator Bill Higgs-Wise, a member of the Senate Committee on the Legalization of Marijuana, said the bill would help eliminate racial disparities in the enforcement of drug laws. This is an important step toward decriminalizing black and brown bodies, which are the target of longstanding policy tools that were actually created by the politicization of our war on drugs, "Higgs and Wise said in a press release from the group.